Rare tenner fetches thousands: 1929 Ploughman banknote makes €14,000

An old Irish £10 note sold for €14,000 at Whyte's auction in Dublin last Saturday, even though the 1929 banknote's condition was, according to auctioneer Ian Whyte, "not great".

The €10 Currency Commission "Ploughman" banknote, issued by the Northern Bank in 1929, made more than double the top estimate of €4,000-€6,000. Only 8,000 of the notes were issued and only five are known to have survived. This was the first one to appear at auction and was catalogued accordingly as "an exceedingly rare and desirable banknote, the scarcest of the Ploughman series".

There was a packed saleroom for the History, Literature and Collectibles auction in the saleroom at the Freemasons’ Hall in Molesworth Street, Dublin. The auction lasted for more than eight hours and 85 per cent of the 700-plus lots were sold.

Whyte’s said afterwards that about one quarter of sales were to internet bidders.


A case of six bottles of Dunville’s Three Crown Whisky, distilled in Belfast in the 1940s and discovered in a warehouse at the now defunct distillery, made €7,000, comfortably exceeding the estimate (€3,000-€4,000).

Manuscript records of the Petty Sessions during the Famine era at Lucan, Co Dublin, made €4,200 (€1,500- €2,500). The court ledgers provide accounts of people tried for offences including “being stripped and fighting on the public street of Lucan”; “being in illegal possession of a salmon” and the utterly intriguing crime of “forcably [sic] detaining a spinning wheel”.

A signed copy of the late Seamus Heaney's first collection of poems, Death of a Naturalist, made €2,100 (€600- €800). An "extremely scarce" poster issued by the Dublin Metropolitan Police of a proclamation banning a meeting "at Sackville Street or its neighbourhood on August 31st, 1913" during the Lockout made €900 (€1,000-€1,500).

A fragment of a painting of Queen Victoria, destroyed during the Easter Rising, made €300 (€300-€500). The 5cm by 12 cm piece of canvas, with traces of paint, is inscribed on the reverse: "May 1916 Sinn Féin Rebellion Portion of Queen Victoria Portrait RCSI". The portrait once hung in the boardroom of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland on St Stephen's Green, but was slashed beyond repair by the 1916 rebels.

A very different royal memento of Irish provenance also attracted bidders. A programme for the “Bal des Petits Blancs en Irlande les 3,4 et 5 Juillet 1965 – Sous la Présidence de Son Altesse Sérénissime la Princesse Grace de Monaco”, a charity ball weekend at Powerscourt House, Co Wicklow, made €360 (€100-€150). The lot included a ticket for the event and a photograph of a picnic attended by some of the guests at Luggala which was hosted by Oonagh, Lady Oranmore and Browne.

In yet another example to delight hoarders, a Dublin vendor's childhood collection of 138 editions of The Amazing Spider-Man, an American comic book series published by Marvel Comics in the 1960s, made €500 (€400-€600).

Among numerous lots of militaria, a second World War deactivated British army “Bren” light machine gun, dating from 1942, made €3,600, six times the estimate of €500-€600.

A Nazi Germany Hitler Youth movement membership card and armband sold for €340 (€100-€150).

A set of five medals awarded to an unknown Enniscorthy, Co Wexford veteran of the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence sold for €2,000 (€2,000-€3,000).

A racoon-skin cap with leather lining and a chin strap, as worn by a member of the Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1912, made €280 (€300-€500).

Silver medals awarded by Trinity College, Dublin to John Kinchela (1774-1845), a Kilkenny-born lawyer who became attorney general of New South Wales, Australia, made €1,500 (€1,500-€1,800).

A scarce pair of tickets to a dance which was to be held in the “Aberdeen Hall, Gresham Hotel. On Friday, May 5th 1916”, an event which never took place due to the damage done to the hotel during the Easter Rising, made €180 (€150-€250).